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NewsDesk: US Auto Sales: Best Since 2007

Even though US light vehicle sales ended the year with a disappointing December—a consequence of ice storms and other seasonal factors—2013 was the best auto sales year since 2007.

Overall, US consumers purchased 15.6 million light cars and trucks, a gain of 7.6% over the prior year, according to Autodata Corp., based on data released by automakers on Jan. 3. On a percentage basis, 2013’s performance wasn’t as strong as the double-digit, post-recession gains of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

But it was respectable enough that most analysts and automakers expect continued strong sales through 2014.

“As we get into 2014, we think that the industry is still going to expand, but the pace of that expansion is going to start to slow up, a little bit,” said Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle.
The Ford F-Series has now been the best-selling truck for 37 years and best-selling vehicle for 32 years. For 2015, Ford has redesigned the F-150 with more high-strength steel and aluminum to make the truck up to 700 pounds lighter—and far more efficient.
These were some of the highlights of U.S. auto sales in 2013, based on data from Autodata Corp.:

  • Detroit automakers posted strong performances. Sales were up 10.8% at Ford, 9.0% at Chrylser and 7.3% at General Motors. That compares to 9.4% at Nissan, 7.4% at Toyota and 7.2% at Honda.
  • Trucks were more popular than cars. Light truck sales, a category that includes minivans, SUVs, pickups and vans, were up 10.5% in 2013 over the prior year, while passenger cars gained 4.9%.
  • Pickup truck sales, which are considered an economic indicator, given their use by contractors and other businesses, gained 12.1% in 2013, with full-size pickups up 16.8%. Luxury and compact pickups, by comparison, posted declines.
  • Among passenger car buyers, the smallest cars remain the hottest. Small cars were up 7.8%, compared to 0.4% for midsize cars and a decline of 57.2% for large cars. Luxury cars posted a healthy 13.5% gain for the year.
  • SUV-like vehicles also remain very popular. Sales of SUV and crossover-type vehicles gained 11.9% during the year.

US Light Vehicle Sales

Growth in New Orders Fuels Continued Manufacturing Growth

Economic activity in the US manufacturing sector expanded in December for the seventh consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 55th consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business released on Jan. 2.

The PMI registered 57%, the second highest reading of the year, just 0.3 percentage point below November’s reading of 57.3 percent. The PMI had increased each month since June, with November’s reading reflecting the highest reading of 2013.

The ISM report is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives, and readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion.

NewsDesk PMI Chart

Aside from the PMI, eight of the 10 indices tracked as part of the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business showed growth in November. Importantly, the index for New Orders grew to 64.2% in December from 63.6% in November. Additionally, these were how the other indices performed in December: Production (62.2%), Employment (56.9%), Supplier Deliveries (54.7%), Prices (53.5%), Backlog of Orders (51.5%), Exports (55.0%), and Imports (55.0%). The indices showing contraction were Inventories (47%) and Customers’ Inventories (47.5%).

Among the comments from survey respondents:
“Largest backlog ever. Most orders waiting on customer approvals.” — Fabricated Metal Products

“Continued government spending constraints keeping production volumes low.” — Transportation Equipment

“Construction equipment market continues to be flat with some signs of improvement on the horizon.” — Machinery

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Tool Shops Looking to Hire

As many as 73% of tool shops plan to hire more employees in the new year, according to the latest North America Tool Shop Benchmark Survey from Cimatron Group. However, 54% of tool shops reported that finding qualified workers remains their top challenge.

The results are based on responses from 370 professionals from North America collected through an online survey.

Other key findings:

  • The health of the business seems to be on the rise, with half of the tool shops surveyed reporting an increase in the number of quotes issued. Close to half of those surveyed (46%) believe the price of tooling has increased in the past five years.
  • Over half (59%) of the shops surveyed invested in new software in the past year, with 40% of those shops reporting they intend to invest even more over the next 12 months.
  • 44% of the tool shops were able to reduce their delivery times in the past two years.

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AeroDef Manufacturing takes place Feb. 25–27, 2014, at the Long Beach (CA) Convention Center. Speakers were selected for the AeroDef Manufacturing Intelligence Series in partnership with a committee comprised of senior manufacturing professionals from aerospace and defense OEMs, NASA and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining (NCDMM), according to event producer SME. Gerould Young, director, Materials & Manufacturing Technology, Boeing Research & Technology, delivers the exclusive keynote address, “The Lure of New Materials and the Corresponding Reality of Manufacturing at Rate and Cost,” from 8–9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

AnnouncementsKeith Vandenkieboom

HELLER Group (Troy, MI) has appointed Keith Vandenkieboom as HELLER US President and CEO, upon the retirement of Robert  Pelachyk. Vandenkieboom was formerly vice president of operations and will retain those responsibilities. Other key managers will maintain their roles at HELLER.

Emuge Corp. (West Boylston, MA), a leading manufacturer of taps, thread mills, toolholders, clamping devices and other rotary cutting tools, has appointed Bob Hellinger as President of US and Canadian operations.  Hellinger succeeds Peter Matysiak, who has retired after a 25 year career with the company. Bob Hellinger

DMG MORI USA (Hoffman Estates, IL) has ended its relationship with Maruka, a distributor of DMG MORI machines in six states. While the two companies will maintain an international relationship, each will pursue other opportunities within the US. DMG MORI USA customers affiliated with Maruka will now have direct access to DMG MORI USA for Service, Sales, Parts and Customer Service Support. DMG MORI is currently adding staff and opening local facilities in Tampa, FL; Parsippany, NJ; Wichita, KS; Kansas City, MO and Tulsa, OK.

Workforce Development

Bosch Rexroth (Charlotte, NC) is offering educational resource kits to help machine builders, systems integrators and manufacturing end-users address engineering challenges in factory automation, linear motion and mobile engineering. More information is available at

ABB Robotics (Auburn Hills, MI) has launched the SMART Education Package, which is now available to qualifying schools to help educate and provide hands-on training to students on the basics of manufacturing automation technology, and the programming, safe operation and maintenance of industrial robots. The package curriculum can be adapted to meet the varying education levels of high schools, universities, community colleges, technical colleges, vocational schools and adult education centers. More information is available at

Mergers & Acquisitions

3D-Micromac AG (Chemnitz, Germany), a leading provider of highly efficient laser micromachining systems, and EOS GmbH (Krailling, Germany), a technology and market leader for design-driven, integrated e-Manufacturing solutions in additive manufacturing, have established a new corporation focused on Micro Laser Sintering technology (MLS). The goal of establishing 3D MicroPrint GmbH (Chemnitz, Germany ) is to advance the development and commercialization of the new MLS technology, and to identify and establish more solutions in the field of micro technology. 3D-Micromac AG and EOS GmbH have been developing Micro Laser Sintering technology together since 2006. The first system successfully began operation at a German research institute earlier in 2013.

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to


This article was first published in the February 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 2/1/2014

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